Travel Thursday: Chilly Spain, part 1

I’ve found the cure for jet lag! Watch all fourteen episodes of “Max Headroom” in a row! I am refreshed!
For the next few weeks the travel spot will be taken up by stuff that I saw and happened to me while on assignment shooting one of the marvels of the Middle Ages and before, the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, which I recently listed as my favorite place in the world. But two weeks in the dead of winter. . . sunny Spain my ass! It’s from a few years ago, so don’t whine if things have changed.
{I was going to add “don’t try some of this stuff at home,” but since it’s impossible to unless you live in Granada. . .}

The road into the Alhambra from the south was designed so the visitor would end up at the starting point of the palaces. The palaces are to the right of the path, but being a contrary individual I instead turned left, into the Alcazaba, which was once a separate palace, all the way to the western edge of the grounds, with its own entrance from town; its massive battlements were later transformed into a guard house and palace garrison. Napoleon stationed his troops there, but before leaving he blew up enough of the place to keep it from being used that way again.
Okay, enough bare bones. I walked through the Torre de Homenaje, the Tower of Homage, as if you couldn’t figure it out yourself. It dominated the eastern end of the keep, but more impressive was the Torre de la Vela, Tower of the Candle, topped with a few flags and a bell that still rings every year to commemorate the taking of the Alhambra by the Christians. . . which is so incredibly Christian of them. Ever hear about the American Secretary of State who told the Arabs and the Israelis to stop fighting and behave like good Christians? Some might say it’s sad to think of all the fighting that went on just because they believed in different gods, but what’s worse is it’s the same god, just a different interpretation. And nothing’s really changed: there’s always some power-hungry guy who wants you to believe that heaven’s a place to which some people will get to go to after they die, but only if you have the approval of his organization.
And then I saw the pretty wisteria and forgot all thought about religion, bringing the camera to my eye. . .
Between the two main towers extends what in all other known medieval fortresses would have been an empty space for troops to maneuver in times of war. However, this Plaza de las Armas was turned into a miniature township complete with paved streets, residences for the army elite, and a public bath right below the Torre de la Vela. Since I’d just walked through it, I didn’t think it was possible, being so small, so I turned around to make sure, and yep, it was damned small. What I at first thought was something like the remains of a labyrinth turned out to be the foundations of the previous buildings. Those were probably bedrooms, and this bigger one was a living or meeting room; as you can tell, I always have fun playing archaeologist. Bending down, I picked up what I first thought was a piece of pottery, wondering how old it could be, but quickly realized it was probably just a dropped coffee mug. Still, that didn’t keep me from my usual flight of fancy, thinking about how different, or more likely how alike, those inhabitants had been to us modern types. When it comes down to it, they loved and hated and fought wars and planted seeds and had kids and, who knows, maybe they found relics from an even more distant past and wondered about those ancients. . .
And as always when I had such thoughts, I remembered a movie called “The Gods Must Be Crazy,” where some guy in a plane throws a Coke bottle out the window, and a tribal boy in Africa finds it. No one in the village knows what the hell it is, and everyone uses it for different things: rolling bread or a flower holder or a ton of other things. Before you know it they’re fighting over it, and the formerly peaceful village is ripped apart.
And then I wondered what some archaeologist a thousand years from now would think of a Coke bottle. . .
A sign pointed toward the barbican, but since I’m allergic to heights, I passed.
{to be continued}

;o)

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